Miles logged: 26
Total miles logged: 1,305
Days since leaving Fleetwood: 47
Days at sea: 29
I slept well in the tranquility of Rispond Bay with no worrying about the anchor. The morning weather was gorgeous with bright warm sun and a gentle breeze so the conditions were ideal for a passage with a difficult headland to pass. Having considered the weather forecast again we left earlier than we had planned and motored out between the islands and rocks into the remaining miles of the north coast. Our view of Cape Wrath was obscured initially by Faraid Head and then, partially, by An Garbh-eilean but after that the monumental cliffs which lead up to the Cape were visible, as was the Cape itself.
We had read that, due to eddies, there is a ‘near-continuous west-going stream’ leading up to the Cape. We didn’t notice it. If anything we were pushing some tide as we approached. Duslic Rock, a dangerous awash rock a few cables off the Cape was visible due to the white water around it so being able to see it clearly eased any concerns that we might be too close. In the settled conditions we had decided to take the inner passage between Duslic Rock and the Cape, which would also ensure that we would have the best view of this significant point of our circumnavigation.
As we drew closer the sea became a little more disturbed and the wind rose to around 12 knots. There was more turbulence once we had turned south but the conditions even at their worst never caused concern. It is so fortunate that the weather was as it was; in other conditions we might have had to wait for days to pass the Cape safely and may have had to round it some miles off to keep out of the disturbed water around it.
It was a great relief to have passed Cape Wrath – the final of the four ‘corners’ of our trip. At each of them – Land’s End, North Foreland, Duncansby Head and Cape Wrath – we have had settled conditions so, by pure good fortune, none caused us any particular difficulty. It could have been so different, save at North Foreland which is not a prominent and rocky headland.
Heading south we were able to sail. The peace and quiet after motoring, and after the nervous excitement of rounding Cape Wrath was welcome and it was savoured, though not for long because the wind soon dropped and the engine had to be started again.
The only safe all-weather port for miles along this coast is the fishing port of Kinlochbervie. In recent years a decent pontoon has been added for yachts and whilst full marina services are not offered, everything that we would need – water, diesel and a calm berth for a rest-day – it certainly could offer. It was a pleasant trip in, passing some rocky islets then into the rocky entrance to Loch Inchard. Once safely berthed we could enjoy the stunning summer weather which was unbelievably warm and sunny. We had a useful chat with a couple of locals working on their wooden coaster and gleaned some invaluable advice about ports and anchorages we might visit as we proceed south.
Not long after we berthed a yacht entered and, there being no free berths after our arrival, the helm asked to raft onto Pagets Lady. The yacht was flying the French flag and it seemed familiar … it was the same yacht that had come in to Newlyn just after we had berthed there. We did our best, again, to have a chat with the charming but more-or-less entirely French-speaking helm who is circumnavigating clockwise. We are clearly making rather faster progress, but he is a single-hander sailing entirely alone so his achievement is considerable nonetheless.
A rest day at Kinlochbervie will be a pleasant treat in this weather. Then we must proceed with some haste towards another safe haven as bad weather is forecast for the end of the week. We contemplated remaining here but have decided to make our way southwards to a safe marina – probably Mallaig – as in the settled weather which is forecast for the next two or three days we should be able to make it there in good time.
There is some video footage of this leg at the YouTube channel here.